The Tudeh Party of Iran Condemns Imperialist and Reactionary Policies in Afghanistan

The fall of Kabul and return of the Taliban to power in Afghanistan on Sunday, August 15, is a colossal tragedy for its people. The designs of the G7 capitalist powers over the past forty years are the main factor and bear the main responsibility for this calamity. The financing and arming of Afghanistan’s Islamist “Mujahedeen” groups by the CIA, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan’s military rulers in the late 1970s, following the victory of the Saur (April) Revolution in Afghanistan, was aimed at undermining and bringing down the government of the People’s Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. At the end of the 1970s, global imperialism was in no way willing to accept a change in the balance of power in this region or the coming to power of national, progressive and democratic forces. The advancement of this plan paved the way for the growth of a variety of reactionary “jihadist” groups who enjoyed Saudi funds to impair any progressive socio-political change in West Asia. The government of the People’s Democratic Republic of Afghanistan aimed to create a new and modern society through the implementation of national development policies, alleviation of poverty, and the elimination of socio-economic underdevelopment underpinned by the feudal system that had held sway in the country before the Saur Revolution. However, Western-backed reactionary Islamists in Afghanistan expressed their overt hostility to democratic human rights and freedoms as enshrined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, especially those pertaining to women and children. The reactionary policies of the new Iranian regime after the February 1979 Revolution, along with the [1977] military coup in Pakistan that brought to power General Zia-ul-Haq, the instrument of British imperialism, and saw the execution [in 1979] of Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, were other major factors contributing to the formation of events around Afghanistan.

The Soviet military’s entry into Afghanistan at the repeated requests of its government [to uphold the fraternal Treaty of Friendship between the two neighbours] to help counter the violent insurgency of Islamic fundamentalists in the country, took place amidst an already underway unannounced war which was launched in coordination between the United States, Britain, Pakistan, and their reactionary allies in Afghanistan. The imperialist powers and their allies intensified their arming and full support of Islamic fundamentalist groups under the pretext of the Soviet presence in Afghanistan, which they themselves had laid the groundwork for.

The withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1989 and the efforts of the central government of Afghanistan to establish an inclusive government of national reconciliation made no difference to the warmongering intent and policies of the Western states, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the Islamic Republic of Iran in support of “jihadist” forces. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the cessation of its economic assistance to Afghanistan, and the intensification of the Islamic fundamentalists’ activities, the Islamic Mujahedeen finally arrived in Kabul in spring 1992. From that point onwards, Afghanistan became embroiled in a civil war between Islamist forces that controlled various areas of Afghanistan, similar to the situation that followed years later in Libya after the collapse of Muammar Gaddafi’s government.

In the 1990s, when Afghanistan’s Islamist forces operated under the ward of Western states, human rights abuses in the country, and the cultivation of opium and production of derivatives such as heroin for export to the world – a source of huge income for these groups – expanded massively.

In the autumn of 1996, the Taliban seized Kabul and announced the establishment of an Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. The Taliban demonstrated the continuation of the previous Mujahedeen regime’s criminal policies by its heinous executions – including the torture and dismemberment of Dr. Najibullah, the former president of Afghanistan, along with his brother, who had taken refuge in the United Nations administrative complex in Kabul.

During the five years of the Taliban’s medieval Islamic state, the social achievements of the People’s Democratic Republic of Afghanistan in health, housing, education, and women’s emancipation were completely eradicated and a reverse trend began. Afghanistan became a training center for the region’s most reactionary Islamist forces, including al-Qaeda.

The cost of the coalition’s occupation of Afghanistan from 2001 to 2021 is estimated to be around $2 trillion – money that was taken from the pockets of the people in countries supporting the coalition and put into the pockets of the imperialist military-industrial-service complexes. During these 20 years, tens of thousands of people died or were displaced in Afghanistan, and thousands of those from the state and private military forces of the occupiers lost their lives. And, in the end, the rapid withdrawal of the Western military forces – the very same forces that had in effect kept the corrupt pro-U.S. house-of-cards government in Afghanistan in power – led to the fleeing of President Ashraf Ghani, the collapse of the Afghan government, and the Taliban’s return to power via the brokering of Hamid Karzai, Abdullah Abdullah and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. The reinstalling of the Taliban state in Afghanistan is based on the fully calculated agreement reached between the Trump administration and the reactionary leadership of the Taliban on March 1, 2020. This tragedy will lead to a greater humanitarian catastrophe, the signs of which – including the fear that grips the people of Afghanistan and their attempts to flee the country – can already be witnessed in cities across the land.

The collapse of the Afghan government is clear evidence of the fallacy of the notion of external intervention to change a regime or help it survive. The Tudeh Party of Iran has always maintained that the imposition of puppet governments by foreign forces cannot guarantee the establishment of democracy or the realisation of people’s rights. The fate of Afghanistan (and Iraq) should be a lesson to those who place their hopes in the interventions of the United States and other foreign powers; who proudly have their pictures taken alongside the likes of Mike Pompeo, invite John Bolton to speak at their rallies, and defend Trump’s sanctions and “maximum pressure” policy. The people of Afghanistan (and Iran) deserve a peaceful and decent life, not corrupt and weak governments reliant on foreign states – nor the Islamic Emirate of the Taliban, ISIS and the theocratic regime in Iran.

It is clear that neither the United States, nor any other imperialist power, is remotely concerned about the fate of ordinary Afghan citizens – and are only looking after their own interests. In this sense, the words of John Bolton, a militarist and reactionary defender of the Bush and Trump administrations, in an interview with the BBC and Sky News in recent days, is very clear: “Somehow the notion has crept it that we were there to defend Afghanistan […] that we were there as an act of charity for them […] It was always a mistake to think that we were there to make Afghanistan the ‘Switzerland of Central Asia’. We were not there to build their nation; we were there to protect our nation!” President Joe Biden has also implied that U.S. military forces invaded Afghanistan for their own interests, stayed there for 20 years for their own sake, and are now leaving for their own sake. He added that countering the Taliban is the duty of the Afghan army. And, in recent days, it has become painfully clear that the price of this policy is to be paid by the women, men and children of Afghanistan with their lives and livelihoods. The new wave of displacement and asylum of these tormented people, which Western governments are looking at with “pity”, should be of serious humanitarian concern for the world.

In addition to these U.S. and NATO plans – which see the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan ready for their dispatch to the next arena of aggression and destruction – one of the planned consequences of this withdrawal and bringing the reactionary Taliban to power is the creating of major insecurity in Western Asia, especially on the borders of Iran and Central Asian nations, and even Russia and China. At the same time, it appears that in the vacating of Western military forces, a role is now being given to NATO member, Sunni Muslim Turkey, whose ambitious leader envisions the revival of the Ottoman Empire in the new era of his neoliberal policies. Harassment of China’s development plans, including the “One Belt – One Road” initiative, is also likely to be another factor and side effect of the recent developments in Afghanistan.

It is now vitally important to recognise – and this should be re-emphasised – that the pawns and puppets of US imperialism, such as Hamid Karzai, Ashraf Ghani, Abdullah Abdullah, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and Zalmay Khalilzad, are not the ones who will open the path to the free and democratic growth and transformation of Afghanistan. Afghanistan and its government have been mired in corruption, embezzlement and tribal rivalries throughout the past thirty years. When the Taliban moved to seize Afghan cities, with the green light of the United States (following the Doha agreement), there was little resistance encountered from the American-trained national army (probably as instructed). In recent decades, there has been no stable and dominant government or order in Afghanistan, and in recent weeks the lives and properties of defenceless people have been abandoned while their mercenary head of state and high officialdom have taken their bags of money and fled the country.

Now, mercenaries like Hamid Karzai, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Abdullah Abdullah are handing over power to the Taliban under the guise of a “Coordination Council” to legitimise the “Islamic Emirate” of these reactionary barbarians. Today, Afghanistan is a striking example of a foreign intervention plan that has led to a humanitarian catastrophe on a parallel with those witnessed in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen.

Such a tragedy should not be allowed to happen again, including in Iran. In these difficult and dangerous circumstances, the Tudeh Party of Iran calls upon all the defenders of peace, democracy, justice and human rights to echo the humanitarian demands of the Afghan people and their supporters against the Taliban’s reactionaries and imperialist powers. A government that does not adhere to the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, an international treaty for all countries, and does not respect the democratic rights and freedoms of the people – especially women, girls and children – cannot be recognised as a legitimate or defensible government.

The people of Afghanistan and Iran suffer under Islamic fundamentalist and reactionary regimes and are therefore deprived of a decent life. The struggles of these two neighbouring nations for freedom and justice have common goals. We should not allow this struggle to be become subdued. Let the voice of this struggle resound. We stand with the people of Afghanistan and their patriotic and progressive forces at this perilous and difficult time and express our active and steadfast solidarity with their struggle for peace, democracy and human rights.

From Nameh Mardom, the central publication of the Tudeh Party of Iran, No. 1136, August 16, 2021

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